Marriage equality. Same-sex marriage. Gay marriage. Whatever you call it, it’s kind of a big deal these days. We hear a lot about why it matters to LGBTQ folks- that pesky equality thing, being treated with the same dignity and rights as others, protecting our families, having nice days out with excellent hats. But, as every LGBTQer will tell you, most people aren’t queer. Most of you are raging heterosexualists. And those of you of a heterosexual persuasion might sometimes wonder what, precisely, is in it for you? Why should you leave your warm, comfortable sofa and take to the streets for the rights of a bunch of strangers?
As it turns out? A lot of reasons. Here’s a few of mine:
1. You Want To Marry People Who Love You Back, Right?
Have you ever met someone who started off LGBT, was oppressed for it, and genuinely turned straight? I haven’t. As a wise man once said, “there ain’t no cure for love“.
Discrimination against queer people has never stopped us from being queer. What it has done is force people into the closet and into relationships with people that they might love, but they can never really love. If you want to be sure that the person who you marry is someone who feels as much for you as you do for them? Make sure that people can marry the ones they love.
2. The Infertility Thing
A bunch of the arguments against marriage equality go something like this: While two people of any gender can share love and devotion, it’s only the physical union of one (cis, though they never mention it) man and one (cis, though they never mention it) woman that can physically create a child, and it is in the interests of society to support this.
Let’s leave aside the kinda-bizarre implication that we want, as a society, to support LGBT people getting into different-sex marriages. It shouldn’t be difficult to see what’s intrinsically wrong with that.
Not all straight people can have kids- biologically, at least- with each other. Not all straight people want to have kids. If marriage is only for people who can physically create a child with each other, then what about infertile people? Post-menopausal women should be banned from marrying anyone at all, and childfree people consigned to civil unions at best. Fertility tests would be mandatory before marriage licences, and marriages that don’t produce children within a couple of years would be annulled.
Sounds ridiculous, eh? It is ridiculous. And it’s not going to happen. But think about it: do you want your marriages to be defined by whether you have children or not? Do you want to be seen as less valuable if you choose not to have kids? Do you want infertile people to be shamed, do you think it’s okay if their relationships are seen as lesser?
If you accept the idea that different-sex marriages are better because lots of people in them can have kids without any outside help (and even by accident), then you accept the idea that having kids somehow makes a relationship.. better. Do you want your relationships defined by whether or not you can physically make a kid with the person you love?
I figured not.
3. It’s about family and community.
LGBT people don’t live in a world separate from everyone else. Maybe your kid is LGBT. Maybe it’s your parent. Or your aunt or your uncle. Maybe your cousin or your sibling. Either way, chances are that there’s at least someone in your circles who’s not entirely straight & cis. We’re part of your families, we’re your friends, we live in your communities. Do you want some of the people you love to be treated as if they were less than others? Isn’t it a little… awkward?
4. It’s About Love
Anti-marriage equality advocates would have you believe that marriage is about anything- anything– other than two people who love each other making a lifelong commitment to each other. They say that it’s about babies- ignoring the many thousands of kids raised by loving same-sex couples. They say that it has nothing to do with love, and that marriage is by definition something between one man and one woman, without giving reasons why. Anti-equality advocates would say that your genitals (which they overwhelmingly feel are directly tied to your gender) are the most important defining feature of the love you share.
Don’t you think that your relationships and marriages are worth more than that? If you love someone, isn’t that love about far more than one of you being A Man and one of you being A Woman? Those of us who advocate for marriage equality say that love is something between you and the unique individual that you love. We say that love doesn’t need to keep anything else down to be special- it’s beautiful just as it is.
These were just what I came up with. Can you think of any more? What’ve I missed?
- New Zealand Becomes 13th Nation to Legalize Marriage Equality (patheos.com)
- Republican State Chair Warns That Marriage Equality Will Lead To Tax Fraud (thinkprogress.org)